Saturday, April 1, 2017

10 MIAA Baseball Players to Watch

St. John's Prep's Mike Yarin is widely considered one of the state's best players.  Photo by Brendan C. Hall, via ESPN Boston.
By Jake Levin (@JakeLevin477)

Ed. Note- SuiteSports is thrilled to welcome our newest contributor, Mr. Jake Levin. Today Jake begins his surely illustrious SuiteSports career by giving you 10 MIAA baseball players to keep an eye on throughout the spring.

Alex Kennedy, Jr. Catcher, Braintree Wamps

Braintree has won each of the last two Super 8 titles, and if they make it three-in-a-row come June, Kennedy will be a big reason why. He hit third for the Wamps last season, and looks to stick in the middle of the order once again after hitting .392 with a home run and three doubles among his 31 hits in 2016. Braintree head coach Bill O’Connell noted Kennedy has “a strong arm and great speed, and hits for power to all fields.”

Kennedy – who bats left and throws right – remains uncommitted about his college destination, but O’Connell said the 6-foot-2 backstop has received interest from several Division I baseball programs.

Nick Dombkowski, Sr. LHP, West Springfield Terriers

Fresh off a Division 1 state title, Dombkowski is back in the fold for the Terriers, who now boast legitimate Super 8 hopes. The 6-foot-1 lefthander throws both a two and four-seam fastball, a curveball and a changeup.

“Pitch location is his best attribute,” West Springfield head coach Garrett Kendziera said “Nick works tirelessly with our pitching coach Pat Bassi on being a student of the game. His work ethic is second to none and wants the ball when the game is on the line.”

Dombkowski also hit .346 as a junior for the Terriers and is committed to play for the University of Hartford.

Sam Jacobsak, Sr. RHP, Milton Wildcats

Don’t be fooled by the 3-2 record the Northeastern-commit posted last spring; each of his two losses were of the 1-0 variety.

Jacobsak posted a 0.85 ERA last season, allowing just five earned runs in 41 innings pitched. Perhaps most impressive was his strikeout-to-walk ratio, an absurd 59-to-8. The 6-foot-4 righty consistently throws in the high 80s and is capable of hitting 90-91 mph, his coach James Moonan said. Moonan added that Jacobsak has a “very good curveball,” with a slider and changeup also part of his arsenal.

A four-year starter for Milton, Jacobsak is also a .300 hitter at the plate.

Nick Couhig, Sr. RHP, Falmouth Clippers

There’s not much Couhig can’t do, whether quarterbacking Falmouth High to a Division 2A Super Bowl title last fall, or putting up fantastic numbers on the diamond. Bound for Boston College, Couhig is the ace of Falmouth’s staff, coming off a year in which he went 8-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched. Just for good measure, Couhig hit .384 last year with nine extra base hits (one home run), 23 runs scored and 14 stolen bases out of the leadoff spot.

He’ll be pitching at BC, but Falmouth head coach Tom Kelliher said that the 6-foot Couhig “supplies a spark to the lineup with speed and power.”

Dante Taylor, So. Shortstop, Newton North Tigers

The speedster will be sliding to the middle of the infield this season, after playing primarily at third base for the Tigers as a freshman. Taylor hit .298 last spring and got on base at a .459 clip.
Still only 16 years old, Taylor stands 6-foot-2 and isn’t done growing.

“He’s young and as his body fills out, he’ll be a Division I prospect,” Newton North head coach Joe Siciliano said.

Sal Frelick, Jr. Shortstop, Lexington Minutemen

Improvement has been incremental for the Boston College-commit, who raised his batting average from .250 as a freshman to .325 as a sophomore. Frelick showed a little pop last season with a home run and 11 RBIs, also scoring 22 runs and going 16-for-16 stealing bases. According to head coach Zack Friedman, Frelick’s best asset may be his glove work.

“In my opinion, he’s as good of a defensive player as there is in the state,” Friedman said.

Ryan Cusick, Jr. RHP, Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors

Standing a towering 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 225 pounds, Cusick throws a fastball that’s consistently in the high 80s and can reach 91 mph on the radar gun. Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Matt Wentworth said that Cusick also has a slider he can throw for strikes, and is beginning to develop a changeup.

“He’s one of the most dedicated players I’ve ever coached in any sport,” Wentworth said.

Cusick is committed to Wake Forest and is coming off a season in which he went 6-2 with a 1.49 ERA and a 55-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He made 13 appearances in all for the Warriors – seven starts – and picked up two saves in the closer’s role.

Charlie Auditore, Sr. 2B, Walpole Rebels

Auditore is entering his third season as the starting second baseman for Walpole, a team with its eyes on the Super 8. The Bentley University-commit hit .302 as a junior with 11 RBIs, six doubles and nine stolen bases. In 23 games last year, Auditore committed just one error.

“He’s a born leader that has earned the respect of his coaches and more importantly, his teammates,” Rebels head coach Chris Costello said. “He’ll be the straw that stirs the drink this year.”

Mike Yarin, Jr. 3B/OF, St. John’s Prep Eagles

One of the premier power threats in the state a season ago, Yarin verbally committed to the University of Connecticut over the summer after hitting .317 with two home runs and 23 RBIs in 2016.

A Catholic Conference all-star last season, the 6-foot-1 Yarin bats left and throws right and will be an integral part of the Eagles’ quest to get over the hump and win the Super 8 after back-to-back losses in the finals.

Mike Vasil, Jr. RHP, BC High Eagles

Named the MVP of the Catholic Conference in 2016, Vasil has a fastball that can hit 90 mph to go along with a devastating 12-6 curveball. The University of Virginia-commit went 6-2 with a 0.93 ERA last spring, striking out 55 batters while walking only 14 in 60 1/3 innings for the Eagles, who were the No. 1 seed in the Super 8 field.


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